My kind and supportive friend, Liz, has mentioned on several occasions that when you are ready to reach out and help someone else, it is a sign of healing. It is an idea that I have been mulling over in the last few weeks. I still don’t have a firm opinion on this yet.
When Grant reached out to his friend who lost her dad, I saw that as a sign that my son understands that helping a friend when they are down is the right thing to do. I figured that he was using his unfortunate knowledge and experience to try to ease someone else’s heartbreak just a little. At the same time, I also worried about the effect this might have on him too.
Experience has taught me not to ask for permission to do something for someone else. After all, they might be like me and say no. In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to do for someone else. I have tried to unlock my memories from the summer and figure out what I most appreciated. I hope that my friend has felt a tiny bit less alone and found a little comfort in having an understanding ear who is willing to listen and random food items delivered to her door. Has this been healing for me? I am not really sure. But it is not only the right thing to do, it is what I want to do for my friend.
Dave’s mom and dad spend the colder months in Hawaii. Last week, his mom was out for a walk by herself and slipped on some wet stairs. Thankfully she had her cell phone with her and was able to call for help. Her injury required major surgery and several days in the hospital. It is hard to feel supportive and helpful (my love language is acts of service) from so far away. I consider myself to be a fairly decent problem solver, so I ordered a few things that will hopefully make her recovery a little more pleasant and comfortable. Has this been healing for me? I am not really sure. But it is important to me to feel useful in some way and show my caring. (Dave’s mom seems to be doing okay, thank goodness!)
So, where am I with my healing? I have no idea. I received an email from one of the nurses who put together the colon cancer retreat through Johns Hopkins. She was reaching out to all of the “caregivers” who have now lost their spouses. In it she mentions that in the beginning our commonality was having a spouse with colon cancer and now we have all lost our spouses and would we like to get together sometime to share and visit together. My immediate and current reaction to that email is “Heck, no. No way. Not a snowball’s chance in hell.” The idea of sitting with a group of others and talking about what we have been through or are going through sounds horrific. I do not have the capacity to manage that much grief.
So is reaching out to others a sign of healing? I really don’t know. I do know that being helpful makes me feel like this ill gained understanding could have some small iota of purpose. But it has not brought me any greater acceptance of losing Dave or made me miss him any less. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations for what healing looks like.
I had Dave and his friend, Rick, pose for this picture. When I asked them to hold hands, they just did – without question or hesitation. (I was trying to create a cialis ad like image!)